The McPherson – Pittsburg Morning Solar water undertaking is progressing
MCPHERSON – The city of McPherson approved more than $ 29 million worth of bonds earlier this month – a debt that will result in increased water rates as the Board of Public Utilities projects a project to build new water wells and pump the water over Drives 20 miles into town.
The move was not unexpected – the project has been in the works for several years. However, it's ahead of schedule. The BPU had no plans to advance the South Well Field Project until 2021 or 2022.
"We looked into it because of the low interest rates," said Tim Maier, general manager of the BPU. "We have had a financial advisor carry out an assessment. In view of the historically low interest rates, he thinks it is advisable to press ahead with the financing."
Funding for the project is planned for early 2021. The start of construction is for 2022.
"If we get the rates we're looking at, we can save between $ 300,000 and $ 400,000 a year from the early 2019 technical estimate," Maier said.
The bonds will be funded over a 30-year period, including $ 27 million in project funding and $ 2 million in bond reserves.
The project, the South Well Field Project, is the drilling of three new holes for the town of McPherson in the Sand Hills of Harvey County.
"We saw a decline in the aquifer," said Maier. "We're trying to find a source of water outside of the area. We're trying to ensure long-term water supplies for our community."
Currently, the city is drawing water from the McPherson Intensive Water Groundwater Use Area – an area that cannot support the current use of its aquifer. The water level has dropped about three inches annually since 1980.
The city of McPherson bought land for new wells in 2012 and received 2107 water rights.
The water is transported via a pipeline to McPherson, where it is treated before it enters the municipal supply. The BPU plans about $ 14.3 million for the pipeline and $ 10.4 million for a 3 million gallon per day wastewater treatment plant.
"The water contains more manganese and iron. It is higher than acceptable. We have to set up a sewage treatment plant here in McPherson," said Maier. "We'll then mix it with whatever water supply we have."
The wells are recharged during rain and flood events on the Little Ark River.
"From a water supply perspective, McPherson should set this up for the next 50 to 100 years," said Maier. "This is a significant investment for the community. I understand. Long-term water supply is extremely important."